Tuesday, January 31, 2006

dream church

tonight as i was listening to a podcast and i heard tony jones say the phrase "my dream church."it got me to thinking about what my dream church would look like. since judge marilyn says i rule i figured i should write down a few things on what my dream church would look like so that you, my loyal subjects, would know these things. so here goes:
  • my dream church would be concerned about the kingdom of GOD - i would want the overriding focus of the church to be on living out and expanding the kingdom of GOD (e.g. living life the way it is supposed to be) - not just missions, evangelism, social justice, discipleship, worship, community or any other single element. we would need to be a group of people that were not only spreading the good news of JESUS CHRIST but also fighting to see that kingdom lived out in this world - fighting with and for the marginalized of the world. basically i would like to see the best of liberal protestantism and conservative evangelicalism brought together.
  • a group of people passionately in love with each other - for me this means lots of pot lucks and constant eating together.
  • a diverse group of messed up people - i want a church that is full of people that admit how much they don't get and how much they don't live out concerning the gospel. a group that is trying to walk closer and closer in the way of CHRIST but in the end realize that we are all screwed up and entirely dependent upon GOD's grace. i would want a place where the perfect middle class family and the drug addict are both in the same room, in love with each other, and realize they both stand before GOD in need of HIS grace.
  • a great mix of people - i dream of a church that is made up of different ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups, sub-cultures, etc. e pluribus unum, baby. the rich and the poor, the black and the white, the packers and the bears fans all living life together.
  • a church that has chili dogs once a week - okay it's a selfish thing but i really love chili dogs. this is not a make or break point but i am talking about my dream church so i figured i should dream a little.
  • a church that seeks to live as simply as possible - i'm not doing a very good job of this personally but i'm trying and i would love to be a part of a group of people who are always struggling to do this.
  • a hospitable church - i want to be a part of a group of people who are always "inviting the stranger into their midst."
  • a body of believers that are growing in CHRIST's love together - i want a church where GOD is sought after, HIS word is delved into, prayer is practiced in a variety of manners, and devotion is encouraged as ways of experiencing GOD's love to greater extents. part of this means a church that is not afraid to mess up. part of growing is sometimes getting it wrong. i want to be a part of a body of believers that is struggling with GOD and HIS word. it wouldn't be a place where someone had all the answers, rather it would be a group of people who are constantly struggling with figuring out what the questions are and trying to accept the love of the ONE WHO is the ANSWER.
  • a group of people who are committed to being between 200 and 300 in size - this doesn't mean a lack of growth or excluding new people. instead it means that church plants would have to happen all the time.
  • i want a church that is constantly experimenting - i want to be a part of a body that is trying new things all the time. new forms of ministry, new room set ups, new teaching methods, new issues jumped into, new chili dogs ... you name it. i want to be with a group of people who are not afraid to fail and therefore will try anything.
  • i want to be with a church body that is embracing its heritage - i want to be a part of a group of people who truly know what is important to them. not the programs, rooms, etc. rather then ideals that all those things came from. i want to be with a group of people who have those ideals in their minds and honor them even while they are trying new things.

that's what comes to mind off the top of my head. i'll probably read it tomorrow and decided to change some of it - i'm tired and i never really trust what i write when i am tired.

Currently playing in iTunes: City Of Blinding Lights by U2

discipleNOW '06

for the past 9 years i have been writing my own small group material for the discipleNOW of the youth ministries i have been involved with. for those who don't know what a discipleNOW is i will briefly explain - it's a weekend retreat where you group kids and adults in small groups of 8 to 12 for in home bible studies - we use 4 small group bible studies and three large group worship times. anyway i started writing my own material because i didn't really like any of the other material i could get at the time (except for student discipleship's back to the basics curriculum which i do really enjoy). i had looked at several other youth minister's self-published material and pam, my cute and intelligent wife, said "you can do that." so i decided to try and suddenly found out that i enjoyed doing it. so i started writing my own material.

of course, this means that i have to finish it in time for my leqaders to have a few weeks with it. this means that i have about 4 weeks to finish it. right now i would say that i am about a third of the way through. that's not as far as i would like. so i need to really start churning the stuff out.

here's the shockwave flash file we are using as an announcement during our announcement slide loop.

[Listening to: Show Me Heaven - Delirious? - Touch (3:24)]

Monday, January 30, 2006

listen and obey

judge marilyn says i rule
Originally uploaded by ratterrell.
awhile back i saw something talking about getting free autographed photos from the people's court. it sounded like something fun to do so i did it. the other day my autographed judge marilyn photo arrived and she said i rule. read it and weep. i rule! since i rule it is safe to say that i must therefore be king. as you king i command each of you to send me $100. do it now. remember according to judge marilyn ... I RULE

Friday, January 27, 2006

a few movies & books

my cute, beautiful, intelligent wife is away for the week working on an operation smile project in managua, nicaragua (i am very proud of her). she's been gone since wednesday and will be gone until next saturday. because of this i am watching allot of movies and reading a good bit - not much conversation around the house when my boys go to sleep. here are a few of my thoughts on what i have been reading and watching.
  • memento - movie - the language in this movie is rougher than i usually like in a movie. i am sensitive to coarse language in a movie and therefore usually avoid anything with much cursing in it. i watched this because of one of the books i am currently reading. the book referenced the movie as an amazing non-linear story. boy was it right. the movie is exceptionally well crafted. i have heard this for years but avoided the movie because of the language. i still wish it didn't have such harsh language within it but this movie is one of a kind.
  • reel theology - book - some amazing thoughts on why film is so important to our post-modern culture. i love the thought of claiming truth where ever it is found.
  • antwone fisher - movie - what an amazing movie! i haven't gone through physical or sexual abuse but i believe we all understand the desire to walk to the big table and hear someone say "welcome."
  • dirk gently's holistic detective agency - book - i love douglas adams' writing. it's incredibly funny in an odd english humor sort of way.
  • catwoman - movie - BORING. this movie was a complete waste of time, money, and film.
  • the scarlet letter - book - i can't believe that i didn't like this book when i was in high school. it always takes me a few chapters to get back into the language of the book but it is an amazing book. i sometimes think that the books kids or forced to read in high school should be forced to read them later when they can actually enjoy them.

i've got allot more to read and watch.

Currently playing in iTunes: City Of Blinding Lights by U2

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

multimedia prayer

here's the multimedia prayer i developed within swish for "the view" tomorrow night. it's my own paraphrase of the prayer suffrage b from the daily evening prayer: rite one out of the book of common prayer. the ambient music in the background came from the "podsafe" mp3s of garageband.com. it's from a band called "anyma." pretty cool stuff in my opinion.

within firefox it loops for some reason that i don't understand. it might do the same thing within other browsers but i don't use any other browsers at my church computer so i can't really judge that. the flash file itself doesn't loop.

sabbath 2006

this past weekend was the second time i have done a sabbath retreat with our youth. i posted about last year's sabbath here. here, and here. the "sabbath" is a weekend that focuses on spiritual disciplines, solitude, quietness, community, and rest.

last year i wasn't sure how the whole thing would work. it went much better than i could ever have expected. so we did it again this past weekend and it i was once again thankful for it. of course, i will change a few things next year. the first of which is to go back to three days and two nights. this year we did only friday and saturday rather than friday, saturday, and sunday. the extra day makes a huge difference. to paraphrase the end of "animal farm" - "two days good, three days bettter."

in a world full of electronic noise the sabbath weekend has one electronic moment. we view a film together and then discuss the spiritual implications and themes of the movie. last year we watched "a knight's tale" - a film that was full of discussion. deciding to stick with movies that had adam tudyk within them i showed serenity for us this year. i had not heard much about this movie before. we loved it. it was great. not only was it an entertaining movie but it also led to some great discussion.

Monday, January 23, 2006

the circumcision sermon

for those of you interested here's the mp3 of the circumcision sermon i did for our church new year's day.

i posted about this message back on january 3rd. the church did eventually receive one complaint - saying that they weren't to happy about the topic. our church administrator told the complainant to come talk to me. i personally haven't heard from anyone yet.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

southern gospel

i'm not a huge fan of southern gospel music. it just doesn't "float my boat." so i wasn't real thrilled when i found out that we had a southern gospel group singing for the largest part of our worship service today. in a perfect world i would at this point tell you that the group was so good that they changed my mind about southern gospel. they weren't that good and it didn't change my mind. still i enjoyed being able to tell that other people were connecting to GOD through the music that was a part of our worship. that was enough for me. i was able to worship GOD through the fact that they were able to connect with GOD through the southern gospel in our service. i love the fact that we have a diverse GOD.

of course, it would be perfectly okay with me if we never had another southern gospel group lead any of our services. ;)

Friday, January 20, 2006

stephen harper is a very bad man

jordan cooper posted this on his blog and it's so funny i have to pass it on. they're mock ads from the canadian political ads. they're so funny that i would vote for someone if they actually ran them.

here's the add about stephen harper's dog.
steven harper has a dog.
hitler had a dog.
does stephen harper goose-step while he is walking his dog?
does stephen harper want to kills millions and be the emperor of poland?
we just don't know.
we're not kidding.
we just don't know.
choose your candidate.

it seems like the stuff in these parody ads is about as real as some of our real attack advertisements during our elections.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

podcasts i like right now

here are the podcast that are getting the most playtime on my ipod right now:
  • 2 minute photoshop tricks - photoshop - the name says it all.
  • cinecast - great movie reviews - i don't always agree with them but i love listening to them being wrong about a movie.
  • grace church - sermons - this is grant's church and the sermons that come out of it.
  • mars hill / rob bell - rob bell sermons - okay this isn't actually a podcast but i wish it was. i go and download the messages all the time. i wish they would put it in an rss/atom format so i could simply subscribe to it and have it downloaded automatically.
  • martin bailey photography - photography - the guy takes great photos and then describes how he took them.
  • media moment - ministry - discussion on using media within ministry.
  • onion radio news - satire - america's greatest news source.
  • relevant podcast - relevant magazine - it's relevant magazine in a podcast with a great caramel filling.
  • the view - youth ministry sermons - okay this is self promotion for what we do within the youth ministry but it is my list after all.
  • the word nerds - etymology - i love learning about words. these guys usually do a good job of discussing ideas concerning why words mean certain things.
  • youth specialties - youth ministry - the podcast from the greatest publisher of youth ministry stuff.
i have other podcasts on the ipod but they are listened to as faithfully. i'll update this as it changes.

the bell

i may be the only youth minister in the world who doesn't survive off of taco bell. i hate the place. it's cheap, nasty food (and i am being generous by calling it food). awhile back i encouraged the teens within the youth ministry to boycott the bell because of unfair employment practices with the coalition of immokalee workers. this was an easy boycott for me because i can't stand taco bell. the only thing that changed for me because of the boycott was that i simply stopped using taco bell for the teens during youth ministry trips and such. that hit them but truthfully didn't change much for me. the boycott has ended because taco bell has begun to treat the immokalee fairly. my eatting habits concerning the bell still did not change. until last night.

last night i needed to met with a teen who is going through his boy scout "god and me" badge. he asked if we could meet at taco bell and i reluctantly agreed. i decided i would try a taco and a burrito. this was, of course, a huge mistake. for the rest of the evening my stomach rebelled. it growled, it lurched, it protested to the point that i understood it's message ... "don't put this junk in me!" i have now promised to my stomach that i will not try this mess again.

citizens of two kingdoms?

i first heard the term "patriot pastors" on npr. it concerned me enough that i decided to do a little research on the web to find out what was going on. that's when i found in the cincinnati enquirer. it appears that the rev. russell johnson has set about finding a couple of hundred "patriot pastors" who according to him:
who oppose abortion, want to protect traditional marriage and oppose higher taxes

wow! this sends up major red flags for me. first off, even though i don't like paying taxes i would not say that paying or not paying higher taxes is a CHRISTian issue. seems to me that JESUS said something about "rendering to ceasear what is ceasar's." yet the big red flag for me is the thought of the word "patriot" being connected to the word "pastor." i love america. i am very thankful to live in america. i would even consider myself patriotic (and i think many other people would consider me patriotic as well). yet i would never connect the word "patriot" with my title of "pastor". my highest loyalty is not with the u.s. of a. it's with my GOD. realisticly my list of priorities go GOD, family, then country (with a slight possibility that a really good chili dog might still beat out "country" and push it to fourth). because of this i don't see "saving" america as anywhere near my top priority. growing and glorifying the kingdom of GOD is definitely top and i don't think politics is a very good way to bring glory to GOD's kingdom.

i am so tired of CHRISTians thinking that politics can achieve the goals of GOD. politics can't. it's not meant to be the way that the kingdom of GOD is brought about on earth. in fact, JESUS describes politics as one of the "powers" of ephesians 6:12. truthfully, i probably agree with much of what these "patriot pastors" hold to be their goals. i am pro-life and therefore i am opposed to almost all forms of abortion. i do desire that marriages are strong. if i met with these "patriot pastors" there is much that we would probably agree on. even if i agreed with all their goals i would still not agree with the idea of being so closely connected with politics. i believe that whatever power you gain through this means merely subtracts from our trust in the real power that we are supposed to be energized by ... the HOLY SPIRIT.

Monday, January 16, 2006



for your photo entertainment

the journey

as a youth minister i fill out lots of recommendations for teens and college students. they come from employment applications, scholarships, student government organizations, CHRiSTian camps, and various other things. it's just a normal part of life as a youth minister. the photo above comes from a recommendation for a CHRISTian camp that i filled out this week. i found it disturbing because i believe it points out that too many believers in CHRIST treat their faith as though it is a destination rather than a journey.

there are two questions that say this to me (or more appropriately their answers point it out to me).

  • "overall reputation on campus"
  • aaplicant's relationship with CHRIST appears to be..."

the questions disturb me because of their answers. the first question's answers in highest and second highest order are: 1)"CHRIST-centered" and 2)"striving." the second question's answer in highest and second highest order are: 1)"intimate" and 2)"growing." both of these sets of answers make it sound like "striving" and "growing" are somehow less than "CHRIST-centered" and "intimate." it's as though you'll reach a point as a follower of JESUS CHRIST where you will not be "growing" and "striving" because you are finally "there." to me, "growing" and "striving" speak of faith as a journey and to reduce such terms to a second class station is to convey what i consider a dangerous message concerning CHRISTian faith.

when we view CHRISTianity as a destination rather than a journey it becomes very easy for us to judge others "who haven't made it yet." it's constant movement and adaptation when we view faith as a journey. that's not true when faith is a destination it's stagnate. when we view faith as a journey our understanding of GOD may change, though HE never does. when we view faith as a destination we begin to believe that we know everything there is to know about GOD and there is nothing new we can learn.

i much prefer faith as a journey.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

testing marsedit

i'm testing to see if marsedit will post to this blog

faith and theology: essential paintings for theologians

faith and theology: essential paintings for theologians
dave walker found this list of essential paintings for theologians. what a great list.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

goodbye old friend?

marko describes in his blog the separation of youthworker journal and youth specialties. it's a sad day. i have always loved youthworker journal. it has been a constant source of encouragement and challenging thought. my wife, a speech pathologist, loved it so much that she would complain if i didn't bring my new issues home with me from church.

youthworker journal may be just as good in the future even without youth specialties involvement but i have serious doubts about it. i hope it continues to be an amazing periodical. i'm not sure that a company whose major business is "CHRISTian radio" (if there is any such thing) will have the right focus to be able to challenge the status quo and comfort at the same time. i sure hope they can ... or i hope someone else, like youth specialties, starts another periodical.

Monday, January 09, 2006

sports gone wild

i stole this from jordon cooper. it's a little strange seeing a gigantic michael jordan hanging from the front of a church.

nice meeting

today i got to meet grant. we ate lunch and talked about what the church can be for around four hours. besides continually running into freaky similarities between out lives (church feelings are very similar, favorite professors at seminary, grant briefly dated a girl that was in the first youth ministry i ministered within, etc.) it was a great day. pam, my great, smart, and incredible wife, has been encouraging me to travel around the country and meet some of these ministers that i have been stealing ideas from and reading their blogs. i may have to take her up on this idea. today was a good start. thanks grant it was fun.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

one for five

back in august i posted concerning the five bloggers i would most like to meet. tomorrow i get to meet one of those five ... grant english. we've corresponded some concerning what the church universal is supposed to look like. it went from email to thinking it would be nice to meet face to face. i have tons of vacation time and therefore my great and loving wife said "why not go up and see him?" and that's what i'm going to do. tomorrow we are going to get some coffee and talk about what CHRIST's church is supposed to really be like. i wish that was a more common thing to do.

Friday, January 06, 2006

the book of daniel

i haven't seen this show but after seeing the commercials and reading this article on beliefnet i have to admit that i am interested in seeing it. i like it when i get a chance to see what other people think about CHRIST. has anyone seen it? what were your thoughts?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

should i stay or should i go

i have a dilemma.

i received an email today from scott (last name removed by me) (a guy who has previously commented on this blog) asking me to remove the post and comments under "slammed by swaggart" and all comments posted about him. personally, at this time i have no interest in removing my post (this is after all my blog, where i place my thoughts, and if someone doesn't like it they can easily skip over it). i would also say that if i saw someone was obviously attacking scott's character within a comment i would delete the comment and warn the commenter. i see no need to delete a comment where someone is expressing their opinion on scott's ideas being wrong. those comments would be their opinion. i view that as a part of a conversation. i can't abide attacking who else someone is but i am perfectly fine with someone accusing someone's ideas of being wrong. afterall, this whole thing began by scott commenting to accuse my ideas of being wrong and i left his comments up.

my problem here arises concerning scott's comments. after saying that he feared i would probably delete his comments he is now asking me in a email to erase them for him. i'm not sure what the ethical thing to do is in this situation. though i have never been asked before to delete a comment, under most circumstances, if asked by the author, i probably would. these comments are different though. some of them are accusatory against me, others are making accusations against other individuals. these comments became a part of the discussion that was taking place within the comments of the blog. i don't believe the flow of comments will make any sense if i remove the remarks that scott made that caused everyone else to respond. i'm not sure that i have a responsibility to delete such comments.

i value you opinion and therefore i am asking for it. i am going to spend the next several days praying and thinking over this and then make a decision. during that time i would also appreciate your input. what are your views on this? thanks.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

thorton, colorado

my brother lives in thornton, colorado and he is looking for a church. i know a few people up there and i plan on making some calls tomorrow to talk with them but i also trust you guys & girls who read this thing. do any of you know of any strong church in the thornton/denver area? i need to find a very accepting relational church that has a good understanding of divorce recovery. any suggestions?


sunday was my turn to preach at church (we've been preaching via committee while looking for our new senior pastor). for the past three weeks i have been struggling with luke 2's description of CHRIST being circumcised. i was drawn to the text because january 1st was the eighth day after the celebrated birth of CHRIST and JESUS being a good jewish boy would have been circumcised on the eighth day. i kept on asking myself why this was so important. for three weeks i study the brit milah. i ended up knowing a great deal of facts concerning jewish circumcision. it was a fascinating study. unfortunately for me i was having a very hard time figuring out how this connected to our church members' lives. ultimately GOd directed me once again to the incarnation and how HE works incarnationally.

the fun part of the message was that it forced me to say words that you don't usually hear in a sermon. for example,
  • circumcision
  • male sexual organ
  • foreskin
  • poop
  • butt
  • menstration

it was allot of fun to watch people squirm a little every time i said one of them.

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Monday, January 02, 2006


i love tagging. i've been using it on flickr and del.icio.us but i haven't been tagging my blog posts for technorati. i'm going to start trying just for the fun of it and therefore this entry is being placed on the blog. it maybe the only one of my posts that is ever tagged but at least i will havee done one.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

hurray - i've been attacked

awhile back i posted about frances & donny swaggart condemning the emergent movement and youth specialties. a guy named scott baker commented on my entry saying ...
You ought to be ashamed! You talk about love? Being a Christian? I don't get it?
Are you even saved? If you are not you will get angry with me.
Did you know gossiping is a sin? The Bible says it is the same as witch craft.
In defense of Brother and Sister Swaggart and God, everything they are teaching comes from the Bible. Have you ever read it?
You make fun of these good people. And that's not right!
Would love an opportunity to talk with you. My name is Rev. Scott Baker and I am the pastor of Heavens Harmony Family Worship Center in Gastonia, NC.
Please call me xxx-xxx-xxxx(i've x'd out the number to protect him from crank calls). Call me please!

so i called him. we discussed the whole thing and i thought we left understanding each other though not agreeing with each other. apparently i was wrong. scott has commented back on my blog twice tearing into me and today i found out through technorati that he has posted on his blog about me without even letting me know. here's part of his post.
I Copied this from a ministers (sic) Blog. I was shocked to say the least. This minister has been in contact with me by phone, not to clear things up, but because he "thought it would be interesting". This man wrote the following below and there are comments from other people. This should make every born again Christian angry, with a rightious (sic) anger. This is a direct attack on the body of Christ
Please take notice again this is a preacher! He says "I laugh my rear end off" he, makes a mocery (sic) of other people, he tares (sic) down Brother and Sister Swaggart for supposadly (sic) doing the same thing. It's ok for him to do it but not the Swaggarts!
There is a link to his blog. check it out, research it well. You will find this man is into astology (sic), and other things of the devil. My purpose for reporting this to you as well as the Swaggarts reporting to you on things of this nature is to sound an alarm! To warn you of the dangers of people who try to decieve (sic) you on purpose. I have listed several comments on his blog and he only responded to one. I asked him if he was saved and HE NEVER ANSWERED THAT QUESTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i didn't even know that i was into astology. in fact, i'm not even sure i know what astology is - but i'm sure my wife wouldn't want me being involved within it. i tried to comment back on scott's blog but he hasn't approved it yet.

thankfully scott says he wants to help me so hopefully soon i will be on the straight and narrow again. i'm sure after he instructs me i will no longer agree within anything that the emergent movement, youth specialties, ric warren, bill hybels, billy graham, or anyone else whose last name isn't connected with the swaggart ministries. oh happy day.

btw, if you would like scott will sell you an expositor's bible for $125 (with jimmy swaggart's words in red - something seems wrong with that. i just can't seem to put my finger on it ... jimmy's words in red? hmmmm)